More nonfiction than fiction, I wrote this in 2010, when my son was eleven years old. It appeared in Death Zone and Other Stories in 2011.
Reading is a true luxury of life. It entertains, educates, enriches and challenges. It broadens horizons and deepens appreciation of the good that is left in mankind; tainted and befouled but still present, brought to the fore at times when it counts.
A good story does this. It reminds us why we try and gives us hope.
My 11 year-old son and I have been reading together for a while now; 30 minutes a night is the average, and we are enjoying The Old Man and The Sea by Hemingway. When the story turned to the Old Man talking about DiMaggio and baseball with The Boy, I had opportunity to tell my son about the early days of the Yankees.
“But I don’t like the Yankees, Daddy.”
“No, but you’ve got to respect what a great opponent they are. They have some the best players in the league and are a force to be reckoned with, even more so when DiMaggio played.”
We talked more about baseball, but it was also about life. Somehow, it spun off into a reading of Ernest Thayer’s Casey at the Bat, which my son thought was brilliant… until the end.
“He struck out.” A frown crossed his young face.
“Yes he did. But it’s okay to fail if you try your best. Sometimes, you’re very best isn’t enough, and you still fail. It happened to Casey. It happens to you and I. But just like Casey, there is always another game and we can try again.”
“So it’s not the end, is it Daddy?”
“Nope. Tomorrow is another day with new challenges and new opportunities to hit a home run.” My son smiled as I said this with conviction, yet knew in my heart that I had forgotten it.
How I love the innocence of my child. How I love that he hasn’t been beaten down by a brutal world and in that, believes the words I said to be true. It pulls me up to a place where I dare to believe with him. My heart warmed, rekindled.
“Can we go back and see what happens with Old Man and the Sea?” He grabbed the thin book and opens it to where we left off. “I hope the boy can go fishing with the Old Man.”
“Of course we can. Just give me a moment. I think I have something in my eye.”
I hope you enjoyed this short piece and if you did, please share.
- Happy 125th birthday “Casey at the Bat” (hardballtalk.nbcsports.com)